Harsh noise wall is a pretty controversial genre. The main argument I’ve heard against it is that it takes no effort or musical talent to fill up a tape with an unchanging, dynamic-less wall of sound. And I’d partially agree with that. But the thing that makes this music (yes, I’d definitely call it that) so fascinating to me is how unique its preparation is, even compared to other types of noise music. For most HNW artists, almost all of the creativity put forward to make walls is used to set up and make the sound, and not actually to sustain or change it. And these artists are just as creative as any others, so they make some pretty amazing stuff.
Vomir is probably the prime example of this, at least for me. He has no ulterior motives, no pretentious explanation of what his music means; he just makes it to make it, because he enjoys it and hopes other people do too. And the process is much more involved than naysayers would lead you to believe. It’s almost dizzying the amount of pedals and effects he utilizes to meticulously craft hypnotic, psychedelic, crushingly heavy noise. The lack of dynamics isn’t a disadvantage; instead, I find myself getting lost in these darkly lush walls.
This is taken to an extreme on 2008’s Claustration. Originally released as a 6-CD box set, which comprises five parts of the titular piece as well as five untitled tracks, the album runs for over five hours. Yes, five hours of unrelenting harsh noise wall. Is there anything more intimidating? I’m not sure, but I can definitely think of worse ways to pass the time I spent listening to the entirety of Claustration. The album was in my ears from 6:02 to 11:27 yesterday, accompanying me through dinner, homework, grocery shopping, almost getting run over by an idiot driver in the pouring rain, and sitting outside in the dark. It was a unique, confusing, captivating, and, ultimately, enjoyable experience. I’ve never felt so isolated by music before, the rumbling, warm noise wrapping itself around me and not letting go until the end.
I can’t say it’s something I’ll do very often, but I also can’t say I regret it. Maybe I convinced you that HNW is a viable art form. Maybe I didn’t. Either way, hopefully you’ll try out Claustration sometime. (If it really is too long I recommend either Black Bag or Portrait Series #6, two other excellent Vomir projects.)